One in 10 parents make house purchase choice based on schools, study shows

Research by Nationwide demonstrates increasing desperation of parents scrambling to secure best education for their children

Nearly a quarter of UK parents of children of school age would be prepared to pay between 2% and 10% more for a new home – potentially thousands of pounds extra – in order to be in the catchment area of a good state school, according to research by Nationwide.

In a sign of the growing desperation of parents scrambling to secure the best education for their youngsters by living close to the top state schools, nearly one in ten (8%) admit they would shell out a premium of more than 10% extra for their house, while 8% would pay up to an additional 2%.

The research, published today by the UK’s largest building society, the Nationwide, and carried out by YouGov, also shows that parents are already making house purchase choices based on schools. Nearly one in five parents (18 %) admit that a school league table or school Ofsted rating has influenced where they chose to live. It comes as parents are currently doing the rounds of open days held at primary and secondary schools, for admission next year.

The link between high house prices and good school catchment areas is already established, but this is the first research to try and gauge just what level of premium parents say they are prepared to pay – regardless of whether or not they can afford it.

Parents are now making decisions on where they will live even when their children are well before school age. Duncan and Nicola Davidson – who live in the Leith district of Edinburgh, have a young son who will be two in January, and are already planning their next property move. They have lived in a two-bedroom flat – bought for £196,000 seven years ago – but now worth £185,000 – and are worried about being priced out of their ideal catchment area by high prices and restrictions on Nicola’s income, as she has gone part-time since returning to work. The 37-year-old, who works as administrative manager at Edinburgh University, said: “People are surprised that we are thinking about all this while Conell is so young and still at nursery, but we would definitely pay more for a house in the right catchment area, provided that we are able to finance it. Finding a house near a good school is very important to us and we would be willing to pay more for that.”

Richard Napier, Nationwide’s divisional director for savings and mortgages, said: “Choosing the right school for your child is possibly one of the most important decisions a parent will make and it appears league tables and Ofsted reports play a significant part in that decision.”

He said competition for places at the UK’s best state schools continued to increase and “although household finances remain stretched, it is significant that a number of parents are willing to pay more on the price of a new home to ensure their child goes to a good school. Taking the cost of a typical UK home, any parent willing to pay 10% more would need to find an additional £17,000 on the total cost of the house, which is a lot of money in the current climate. And, this is before you factor in the cost of items such as uniform, PE kit, lunch and even travel to and from school.”

YouGov surveyed 1,012 UK parents of children aged 5-16 years whose child will be attending school in the next academic year. The online survey was carried out between 7 and 13 August. Ofsted information for Chew Valley Secondary school Ofsted information for Norton Hill Secondary school